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Political Giving: Making Sense of Individual Campaign Contributions

Bertram N. Johnson
Political Giving: Making Sense of Individual Campaign Contributions
ISBN: 978-1-935049-55-5
2013/157 pages/LC: 2013011249
FirstForumPress Book
"An impressive book. Johnson brings considerable insight to the study of campaign finance, US elections, and political behavior."—Robert Boatright, Clark University


Why do some 30 million people in the United States give money to political candidates and causes—even though most individual contributions are irrational from the perspective of a strict cost-benefit analysis? How do campaign fundraisers tap into potential donors' motivations? Exploring three decades of historical data and also drawing extensively on the insights of contemporary campaign directors and consultants, Bertram Johnson makes sense of why people give and considers what this means for the campaign finance system, and the quality of representation, in the United States.


Bertram N. Johnson is associate professor of political science at Middlebury College.


  • The Puzzle of Individual Giving.
  • Competing Theories of Individual Participation.
  • The History of US Campaign Finance.
  • How Modern Campaigns Appeal to Individual Contributors.
  • How Members of Congress Build Their Fundraising Coalitions.
  • What Survey Data Tells Us About Contributors.
  • Why Do People Give?
  • Whither the Campaign Finance System?